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Hello Australian Deaf Community! My name is Gab Hodge. I'm Deaf from Melbourne and now working in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh in sign language linguistics. 

Have you ever dreamed of spending one week at a beautiful location, thinking, learning and signing with other Deaf people? Yes, me too! 

I’m excited to partner with Deaf Australia in hosting a new event in Perth from 1-5 July 2024. 

Thinking Lab 2024: a space bringing many deaf people together to figure out what and how we think. Our aim is to develop and improve our deep thinking skills. Thinking Lab will not be like sitting in a row in a classroom watching boring lectures. We will watch different films. [Note for Deafblind attendees we can use different prompts on request]. We will draw on different ideas from these films, depending on all of our different interests. These ideas will be taken into group or one-on-one discussions, and we'll also do different creative activities designed to support development of our deep thinking skills. 

Thinking Lab 2024 will be facilitated by myself and four other wonderful Deaf people:

  1. Annelies Kusters (Belgium) who is extremely knowledgeable about Deaf people, language, culture and film-making. 
  2. Jody Barney (Australia) who has extensive experience relating to First Nations knowledge, culture, language and advocacy. 
  3. Stef Linder (Australia) who is skilled with interpreting, translating and community development. 
  4. Marta Morgado (Portugal) who is knowledgeable about linguistics, Deaf culture and visual notetaking. This is different to English notetaking, as it relies on transforming ideas into visual or tactile notes. 

We are very excited to host this event together. Jody, Stef and myself all use Auslan. Annelies and Marta use BSL or International Sign. 

There are 25 spots available for Thinking Lab. These limited places ensure we can provide a good quality learning experience for everyone who attends.

The registration fee is $2,000 per person and includes all food, accommodation and learning for the week. We also have five free places available for people who do not have access to funding. 

Would you like to join? You must be:

  1. Deaf, Deafblind, Deaf disabled or hard of hearing and age 18 or older
  2. Comfortable using visual or tactile sign for the week
  3. Open minded, curious and interested in other people and ideas

We hope you will apply! Stef explains the application process in another video. We also have a series of FAQ videos that you might like to check for answers to any questions.  

Hope to see you there! Thank you.

Visual description

Gab is standing in front of a plain white background. She is wearing a dark red turtleneck and signing in a friendly and informative manner.


Perth Thinking Lab 2024 is a space bringing many deaf people together to figure out what and how we think. Our aim is to develop and improve our deep thinking skills.


Mandoon Estate, 10 Harris Rd, Caversham WA 6055, Australia.


1-5 July with a meet and greet online one week before.


$2000 registration fee, which includes all food, accommodation and learning. $500 non-refundable deposit due 12 May 2024. $1500 due by 12 July 2024. We also have five free places available for people who do not have access to funding.


There are 25 spots available for Thinking Lab. This means we can provide a good quality learning experience for everyone who attends. FAQs and application link below. Deadline 6 May 2024.


1. Where is Thinking Lab?


Where is Thinking Lab?

Hello, my name is Stef Linder. You might have seen Gab talking about Thinking Lab last week and want more information. Here I will explain more about Thinking Lab.

Thinking Lab will be held over five days near Perth in the Swan Valley region of Western Australia. The location is about 25 mins from Perth CBD and about 15 mins from Perth airport. We chose this venue because it can provide comfortable, accessible and affordable accommodation and learning space in natural surroundings.

The traditional custodians of this area are the Whadjuk Noongar people of the Nyoongar Nation, who are the largest Aboriginal Nation in Australia with 14 clan groups across the southern parts of Western Australia. Thinking Lab will begin when a local Nyoongar Elder welcomes us to Country. During the week there will also be a special First Nations cultural night where we can learn more about Whadjuk Noongar culture.

We chose this venue because it is surrounded by beautiful nature, it is not expensive, and it is easy for wheelchair users to access. There is also free parking and free WiFi.

2. Where will we stay?


Where Will We Stay?

We will stay on the Mandoon Estate, which is a winery in the Swan Valley. Mandoon Estate includes learning spaces, eating spaces and accommodation all in one location. This will make it easy for us to move between spaces.

The accommodation is Maya Maya on the Mandoon Estate. All rooms will be twin shared, with two people of the same gender sharing a room and a single bed per person. If you want to share a room with a specific person, please tell us their name and we will try to work it out. All rooms have an ensuite with shower and a private balcony with an outdoors view. All rooms are on the ground floor and wheelchair accessible rooms are available. If you need a wheelchair accessible room, please tell us on your application form. A dedicated Security Guard and/or Senior Manager will remain onsite during after hours to make sure everything is alright.

There are two eating venues. Breakfast will be hosted each day in the Homestead Brewery on the Mandoon Estate. You will have a choice of hot or cold breakfast with coffee or tea and fresh fruit juice. On Tuesday evening, there will be a burger night in the Homestead Brewery. All other evenings we will eat in the Wild Swan restaurant. Daytime meals will be hosted in the learning venue. This includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. If you are vegan and can't eat meat or eggs, or if you are vegetarian, or if you cannot eat some foods such as bread, milk or cheese, please tell us on your registration form. All food is halal.

3. Alcohol policy


Alcohol Policy

Even though we are staying on a winery estate, we decided it is best if there is no alcohol. This is because if there are problems related to drinking alcohol, like people drinking too much, it can spoil the event for everyone. By hosting a dry event, we are providing an opportunity to focus fully on learning with no distractions.

4. Communication



If you are Deafblind, disabled or neurodivergent, such as ADHD or autistic, if you feel comfortable to talk openly, please tell us on your application form. This will help us support you. We want you to feel fully included.

Thinking Lab is a fully signing event. Some facilitators are Australian and some are from overseas. We will use Auslan, BSL and some International Sign. We want to adjust to different people who attend. We also want you to sign the whole week so that everyone is included.

5. Application & Registration


Application & Registration

If you want to join Thinking Lab, great! Please complete the application form on the website and tell us who you are. Please submit your application form before 30 April 2024. We will receive and review all applications. If we receive applications from more than 25 people, we will create a shortlist. If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to register for Thinking Lab. This includes completing the registration form and paying the $500 deposit before 12 May 2024. Deaf Australia will need to use the registration deposits and look for sponsorships to pay the accommodation before the event. One week before Thinking Lab, we will all meet online to say hello to each other and learn about who is going. One week later is Thinking Lab. The remaining $1500 registration fee must be fully paid by 12 July 2024.

If you are not on the shortlist, we will put your name on a waiting list in case a space becomes available. If someone changes their mind, can no longer attend or wants to cancel, we will invite you to register instead.

If you have paid your $500 deposit and later change your mind, or can no longer attend or want to cancel, please let us know before 21 May 2024. We will try to offer another person to register to take your place, but we cannot promise this will be possible. This means your deposit is non-refundable. Please buy travel insurance just in case you are sick and cannot attend, so you can get your money back.

6. Five Free Places


Five Free Places

We want to support many different people to participate in Thinking Lab. We want to see new faces, including people who have never been to a deaf gathering overseas before or who have experienced life or financial hardship. We want to make sure different people can be included. There are five free places for people who do not have access to funding. If you are over 65 or recently migrated to Australia and are not supported by NDIS funding, please tell us on your application form.

7. Claiming NDIS


Claiming NDIS

Yes you can claim the registration fee from your NDIS Plan, as long as it is in line with your NDIS Plan goals. You can talk to your Plan Manager or check your Plan to see how your goals match the goals of Thinking Lab. If your goals match, you can use your NDIS Plan to cover the registration fee.

Thinking Lab is similar to the VALID Having A Say conference. Have a look at the link that explains how people could claim the registration for that conference from NDIS. You can tell the NDIS that Thinking Lab is a sign language only event. It is different from other events where there are people speaking and where you need to bring an interpreter, captions, or write with pen and paper. These events are not truly accessible or inclusive. Thinking Lab can be fully inclusive because we will all be signing.

The NDIS likes people to build capacity. These are good words to use. You can tell the NDIS that if you attend Thinking Lab, you will learn how to participate in deep group discussions, develop your skills in asking questions, debating, and presenting to different people. It will support development and improvement of many different thinking and communication skills. Have a look at the VALID Having A Say conference as an example how you can claim on NDIS:


8. Sponsorship



Maybe you are not interested in applying to Thinking Lab, but would still like to support this event? Great! While the $2000 registration fee covers all food, accommodation and learning, it does not include return flights to Perth or other travel costs. Sponsorships can support all or some of travel costs for Thinking Lab. Your sponsorship can support someone to attend Thinking Lab at little or no cost. Please contact Deaf Australia to discuss sponsorship of Thinking Lab.

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